step by step: stool makeover tutorial

Reupholstering sounds scary, doesn't it? I know. Hence why I thought I'd start out with a stool. I mean, I should be able to recover a stool, right?! How hard can it be? Turns out.... easy peasy! A perfect beginner's project. Here's a step by step tutorial to turn an old tattered stool into a gleaming new seat!

Here's what you'll need to get started:
  • Stool
  • Pliers (something to pull out the old staples covering the seat)
  • Sanding block
  • Tack cloth (or damp cloth)
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Brush
  • New fabric (amount depends on your stool, but for a standard size you'll need about an 18" square)
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • A few hours (includes drying time)
  • DIY gusto (you've got that!)

Here's my stool. Basic. Old. Worse for wear. Not to mention, not my style. But it was free and I like free. I like easy home projects even more! Let's go!

1. Remove fabric from old seat by removing staples and tearing away fabric. Make sure to get out all the old nasty staples to avoid any sharp metal clutter.

2. Your stool should look something like this. Many people would get a new piece of foam for the seat, but this one still has plenty of squish and I hate to throw away something that's perfectly useful, so use of old foam it is. Feel free to get a new piece at the craft store if you need.

3. Lightly sand legs of stool. Just enough to scuff it up for primer and paint to adhere.

4. Wipe with tack cloth or damp cloth to remove dust. Don't skip this step!

5. Prime and paint! Since the wood is dark and I'm painting it a light color, I chose to prime first. Two coats in fact, cause I'm that silly. Let dry. If you're painting your stool a darker color, no need to prime. Then paint! I also used two coats of paint to ensure even coverage.

6. Laugh at your dog who spent the afternoon "keeping you company".

7. Gather supplies for the reupholstering. The paint color is actually a light aqua, but it's hard to see in the harsh light.

8. Lay out your fabric right side down. Center the foam and the stool. This is where I winged it. I gathered fabric from two opposing sides first and stapled them down, always ensuring to fold under the raw edge of the fabric. Pull taut, but not tight when stapling. Then just fold up sections of fabric around the stool and staple. Chances are no one is going to see the bottom of your stool, so don't get too caught up in making it pretty. Keep folding under raw edges of fabric... this keeps it looking a little cleaner. I wasn't chintzy with the staples either... go to town to secure your fabric!

And you're done! Voila! See, wasn't that simple?

Have you done (or are wanting to do) an easy, quick furniture makeover project? If so, what is it and how did the process go for you? Any reupholstering geniuses want to give us some tips for "real" furniture?


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Sarah Jerger
Burlington, Vermont
Mom, wife, professional, grad student + maker of things
On a journey to live a creatively-filled and fueled life.
Lover of craft, art, slowing down + all things birth

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